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best fresh tomatoes

Hello all,

I'm wondering whether there is a place to get really good-tasting fresh tomatoes.

Even Central Market and Whole Foods, so great in so many ways, seem to sell many completely flavorless tomatoes.

Should I try Jimmy's? Is there a certain variety or brand to look for? It's a shame that so many tomatoes seem to have almost no flavor at all.

Many thanks in advance.

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  1. Jimmy's tomatoes come from Tennessee and IMHO are just as tasteless (albeit, cheaper) as those from C-M and Wholefoods.

    The "heirloom" tomatoes offered by both C-M and Wholefoods are stupidly priced and not worth their cost.

    Personally, I really like the tomatoes from J.T. Lemley's and the other independent farmers at the Dallas Farmers Market.

    The samples offered by each vendor will tell you what you want to know.

    However, we really need to wait until prime tomato season starts in July and ends in late September or depending on the particular season, early October.

    The tomatoes from Spicer's 1410 market are excellent! But, you've got to get to them before he sells the best ones to the restaurants.

    1. Looking for great tasting tomatoes in early March in TX ain't gonna happen!! Right now I'm surviving on grape tomatoes or Romas from Mexico. I enjoyed the best tasting tomatoes the year I lived in Memphis, TN. The tomatoes from "Bill's Garden" (Bill was a neighbor) were amazing. Many evenings my dinner was simply one of "Bill's tomatoes" with gorganzola, balsamic, salt & pepper.

      Good luck to you!

      1. Thank you!!

        I don't mind waiting for the season -- just want to know where to look. Will check again in the summer.

        1. Dallas Farmer's Market. Look and make sure you are buying from a grower and not just a buyer. More often than not, Lemley's are the best. But I like to taste around. There are usually only two or three growers, do it doesn't take long.

          1. Costco carries Campari tomatoes and they are good. Some of the grocery stores also carry them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mjtx

              Costco's tomatoes are very good for a hothouse tomato. I think they may be organic as well. The "Roma" tomatoes are excellent.

            2. I'm of the opinion that they are just not available at this time of year. Depending on preparation, I use good canned San Marzano tomatoes. If you are looking for tomatoes to eat in a raw preparation, I just wait until July or so. Just my take.

              8 Replies
              1. re: J.R.

                I've had tomatoes from Jimmy's Italian Market and they have been decent during the winter months. A few weeks ago, they were from Marfa, TX and $0.99/pound

                1. re: BellaDonna

                  Thanks for the Jimmy's tip. If they're anything like the Marfa tomatoes they serve on the bruschetta at Bolsa, they're bound to be awesome. Yet one more reason to frequent Jimmy's!

                  1. re: sike101

                    I love Jimmy's and shop there very often, However, I'd ask if the tomatoes they have the day you're there, do indeed come from Marfa or, Tennessee.
                    Either way, they'll have to ripen a bit after you get them home. Let us all know how you've done.

                    While there, be sure to pick up some Italian Bufala Mozzarella and fresh basil for a salad Caprese with your tomatoes.

                    1. re: twinwillow

                      I'm not normally a big tomato guy, but those giant Marfa tomatoes from Bolsa are some of the best I've ever tasted. Hopefully they'll show up at Bolsa Mercado this season. Incidentally, I'd put the Mercado’s Italian sausage up next to Jimmy's any day, heresy, I know, but true.

                      I've never paid much attention to the produce at Jimmy's, except buying the occasional squash blossoms when available. With Spicer next door, I usually skip right over it. Meats, cheeses, wine and sundries are usually what I'm after. But any chance to find those tomatoes and I'll be paying attention from now on.

                      1. re: sike101

                        I went to Bolsa Mercado today specifically to buy some of those huge tomatoes from Marfa. I guess the word got out because there were only 4 (huge) tomatoes in the basket. Two were badly bruised so a friend and I bought the remaining two. One for each of us. Just one will feed two people easy enough. The next step is to buy some basil and Bufala Mozzarella. Then, I'll report my findings. Stay tuned.........

                        Of course while there, I also bought some salumi, brie, crackers, Italian sausage, etc, etc, etc........

                        1. re: twinwillow

                          The oversized tomatoes from Marfa we bought at Bolsa Mercado were certainly not oversized in flavor or texture. Kinda, meh if you want to know the truth. Could be the time of year.
                          I'll just wait for summer for Lemley's tomatoes at the Dallas Farmer's Market.

                          1. re: twinwillow

                            The Marfa tomatoes at Jimmy's this weekend were pretty darn good, not huge or out of this world, but the price was right.

                            Incidentally, Spicer had fiddleheads, ramps and goose eggs among other things.

                            1. re: sike101

                              I bought some large red beauties at Spicer's today.
                              My friend bought a (large) "dime bag" of mixed wild mushrooms.
                              Saw the goose eggs. Huge!

              2. The ones CM sells on the vine aren't too bad. I may try growing my own this year. Unfortunately the climate here isn't nearly as good for tomatoes as where I grew up ... just too damn hot in the middle of the summer. Grape or cherry tomatoes are always the best bet at the grocery store, but for some dishes they just won't do ... I notice that CM has stopped carrying Cherubs, apparently in favor of their own brand, which I found really disappointing. They have the look of heirlooms, but the skins are like elephant hide. Once you manage to bite through it, the inside is no better ...

                1 Reply
                1. re: foiegras

                  Actually, if you get the right cultivars, tomatoes grown in the Texas heat can be great. But you need a bit of experience with them. They need to be watered regularly, but if you over water them, the skin will crack. Likewise, you get your best results if you set your plants out fairly early (starting them indoors or in a hot house), and thereby letting the tomatoes ripen before it gets too hot. Then, start a second batch of plants in mid summer for planting for a second crop. It's just all but impossible to nurse a plant through the entire summer. But it's quite possible to have two crops of tomatoes -- early summer and early fall -- off of two sets of vines!

                2. I was at CM last weekend and the aroma of fresh tomato just wasn't there on any tomato that is generally a slicing tomato; same with the red cherries. But they have containers of mixed yellow/red/heirloom cherries that smell wonderfully and will reward you with their taste.

                  After failing pretty badly at successfully raising tomatoes in our heat, I have found Neil Sperry's growing advice to be fairly sage advice. Go for the smaller tomatoes at 12 oz. or lower due to the long maturing needs of the larger beefsteak types. He likes recommending Celebrity and cherries. I tried the Celebrity and found them tasteless, so "I" rec finding a different variety. His supporting logic certainly worked for the smaller ones.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CocoaNut

                    With very few exceptions such as Spicer's, most fruit and veggies in Dallas always look good on the shelf (partly due to the special lighting) but have no scent or flavor.
                    That's why I buy organic only. Not as much for heath reasons but for, flavor. There is a difference. See for your self. Smell an organic apple in a store and then, smell the same variety that's non-organic. You'll see exactly what I mean.

                    1. re: twinwillow

                      I already smelled the tomatoes at CM. Here's how to do it: Pick it up, put it to your nose, inhale through nose..... :)

                  2. I would generally say spicers. I did however by some awesome heirlooms at whole foods plano yesterday. I was actually amazed at the flavor sweet and nice... Hmm maybe I should go and see if they have any more.